The Tragic Last Days Of Stan Lee

Stan Lee was (and still is) the most famous face in comic books. If it weren't for Lee, we wouldn't have the MCU (Marvel Comics Universe) that we know today. No Spider-Man, no Iron Man, no Hulk, no Black Panther. Marvel would be struggling with a serious lack of material. Not to mention, we'd be without all of those fantastic cameos by Lee himself, which — let's be honest — were a major reason fans piled into the theaters to catch the films on opening night. You'd think with the level of fame Lee amassed in geek and mainstream culture, the end of his life would've been pretty grand. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case.

His last days were filled with tragedy. He could no longer enjoy comic books because his eyesight had gotten too bad for him to read them, according to NBC, which in itself was a major hit to his life. The year before his death, Lee was forced to endure the loss of his wife of nearly 70 years, Joan Lee, to a stroke. No one doubts that this was a painful personal tragedy, but it had further-reaching effects that most people don't know about. Joan Lee was, as Lee describes her, his "only partner and business manager." The effects on Lee's life without his wife's managerial skills were beyond sad.

Lee continued to work right up until the end

There's no doubt that Stan Lee worked hard to reach the level of acclaim that no other comic book writer has ever seen in this world. He created several of Marvel's biggest brands and had worked for the company for a lifetime. But Lee was just an employee and didn't enjoy as big a cut of the Marvel money as most people believe.

He continued to work until right up to the end of his life. Of course, at this point, he'd come to rely on public appearances at events such as Comic Con to make his cash. Unfortunately, Lee wasn't always the best with negotiating finances, and the rights to his intellectual property at Marvel stayed with Marvel. The intellectual properties were never legally Lee's. Those "executive producer" credits you see on all of the Marvel films were put there, as many believe, simply to keep fans from rioting in the movie theaters. Marvel owed Lee nothing because he didn't have a stake in the company and, according to ALux, Lee didn't see a dime when Marvel was sold to Disney. That's not to say that Lee never made any money. The guy just wasn't some ridiculous billionaire. His salary at Marvel was $1 million per year, according to his biographer, Bob Batchelor, the author of Stan Lee: The Man Behind Marvel. Lee also had his own separate company, POW! Entertainment.

Taken advantage of in his old age

The limited fortune that Stan Lee had gathered over his lifetime started to disappear rather quickly and suspiciously following the death of his wife. Lee was in his 90s and lacked the full mental faculties of his youth, as can be seen in a notorious video, posted on YouTube, of Lee signing autographs for $120 a pop at the 2018 Silicon Valley Comic Con. Lee is being coached in the video on how to spell his own name by his business associate, Keya Morgan. Here's the thing about this video: it shows a Stan Lee who probably shouldn't have been on the road, being coached through the simplest of tasks by one of the men who would be accused of lining his own pockets by taking advantage of the aging writer.

In February of 2018, Stan Lee signed a declaration stating that Morgan, along with Jerardo "Jerry" Olivarez and Lee's daughter's attorney, of influencing Lee's daughter (J.C.) in an attempt to gain control of Lee's assets, according to The Hollywood Reporter. In June of the same year, Lee's attorney filed a restraining order against Morgan, and in 2019, after Lee's death, the ordeal turned into a legal battle as Morgan was charged with five counts of elder abuse.

Why Keya Morgan was charged

The charges against Stan Lee's former business manager, Keya Morgan, included raud, forgery, and false imprisonment, according to The Guardian. The restraining order that Lee's attorney filed before Lee's passing claimed that Morgan had been keeping Lee isolated from his friends and family while Morgan embezzled around $5 million worth of money and other assets, including artwork.

The incident that led to the restraining order was wild. Police and a social worker showed up to Lee's house to do a welfare check, which they only do if they receive reports that something suspicious is going on or that it's been a while since anyone has heard from the person they're checking up on. When they showed up, Morgan allegedly called the police on the police, claiming they were imposters.

After the restraining order was in place and Morgan wasn't allowed within 100 yards of Lee, Morgan was accused of taking control of Lee's Twitter account. He was then accused of being behind a lawsuit in which Lee tried to sue POW! Entertainment, the company he started, in May. Lee ended up dropping the lawsuit because he found the whole thing "confusing, reported The Guardian. Morgan has pleaded "not guilty" to all of the charges.

Was Lee's daughter involved in the abuse?

There have been questions surrounding whether or not J.C. had any part in her father's treatment — outside of being easily taken advantage of. On one side, the declaration Stan Lee signed in February 2018 claimed that J.C. also was being taken advantage of, but it said a few other things about Lee's daughter as well.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the declaration details that J.C. had a difficult time supporting herself, relying on her father's money to survive. J.C. would often amass $40,000-$50,000 in credit card debt every month. Before Joan Lee died, she set up a trust to help keep J.C.'s inheritance from being blown before both parents were in the ground. Of course, J.C. wasn't a fan of this and often argued for the terms of the trust to be changed so she had access to more cash. If Lee didn't comply — which he usually didn't — things would get ugly.

"[She] typically yells and screams at me and cries hysterically if I do not capitulate," Lee said in the statement addressing the many disagreements he and his daughter had. Lee claimed he didn't adjust the terms of J.C.'s trust because doing so "would greatly increase the likelihood of her greatest fear: that after my [Stan Lee] death, she will become homeless and destitute." Stan Lee died November 12, 2018, just six weeks shy of his 96th birthday.